Clearing The Air


From top: Irish Times editorial on the EPA report which has prompted calls for cyclists to wear protective masks

Earlier this week, The Irish Times reported on a report published by the Environmental Protection Agency about nitrogen dioxide levels in Dublin.

In response, Cian Ginty, of Irish Cycle, writes:

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday gave a stark warning on nitrogen dioxide air pollution, clearly making the link between excessive car use and human health.

in reaction, The Irish Times told us to wear cycling face masks and not to walk on busy roads and, this morning, used its influential editorial column to call for urgent action to… wait for it… have more monitoring.

More monitoring is needed, but using such an influential column to just calling for monitoring is a disservice to the residents of the city centre, and visitors of all types, be they workers, shoppers or tourists.

The bull in the China shop — the car — is hardly touched on in the article.

The Irish Times says the “capital needs a real-time map to highlight how bad the air has become in certain parts of the city” but what the capital needs is action — mainly focused on traffic reductions measures.

READ IN FULL: The Irish Times and air pollution: A dirty old newspaper protecting car use in Dublin City Centre (

35 thoughts on “Clearing The Air

  1. Mr.Fart

    out government, as is well documented, don’t do any work. So nothing will be done about this. just another reason on top of the ever mounting pile on why they have to go. their inaction kills, has killed, and will kill more.

  2. postmanpat

    The Irish government attitude all this month : Ole Ole its a holly-holiday!!! Theres probably no pollution where they’re going for the summer so what’s the problem? ….Me mind on fire – Me soul on fire – Feeling hot hot hot…(Just think of Leo getting into his Bermuda shorts and singing into the hairbrush) oh!! I just got sick in my mouth

  3. SOQ

    OK well the situation on Pearse Street is an absolute disgrace.

    I had a meeting off there recently but as it was a Friday I left the office at four. Sat for at least half an hour on Pearse Street and then the same again on the Samuel Beckett bridge. The traffic was backed up all the way up Guild Street with at the top, the most convoluted traffic light system preventing cars turning onto Sheriff Street and towards the port tunnel.

    This despite the fact there is plenty of space to have two slip roads- one going left and one going right. So in summary, IMO one set of traffic lights is causing at least half the congestion,

    Now I can only assume this is deliberate and the question is why? Is it the case that the Samuel Beckett bridge has restrictions on the amount of traffic that can pass over it? A free flow of traffic in that area to the port tunnel would without doubt reduce the amount of pollution on Pearse Street but- they don’t seem to want to do this.

      1. SOQ

        Traffic lights DO cause congestion AND pollution if not properly coordinated with the proper underlying road infrastructure- that is the whole point. And I am not having a blind rant here- I have personally worked with traffic management people in the past on projects.

        1. postmanpat

          My old man always reckoned that some group made an obscene profit for every new traffic light installed on the roads. I don’t want to appear tin foil hat or anything but I m sure if you follow the money you will know the real reason for all those lights (its not for anyone’s safety as any road user knows)
          Everyone knows the traffic flows better when lights are taken out by a storm or the pigs all catch the blue flu. You can drive from Dublin to Rosslare and get a ferry to mainland Europe and drive all the way to the south of Italy and you will not count as many unnecessary traffic lights as you would trying to get out of Ireland ,particularly Dublin, because we are a corrupt little kip of a country. Two sets of lights were installed on the road I grew up on where none existed before , because they were not needed , they are still not needed, but there I am half the time stuck at a junction looking at no traffic coming from either direction waiting for the green light. (when I’m driving that is , on the bike I’m going through anyway!)

          1. Liam Deliverance

            I hear ye Postmanpat. I have always wondered why they put the sensors right at the stop line. It would make more sense to have them 200m before the lights so that they can change without the approaching traffic having to stop, less fuel used and less pollution.

            Many sets of traffic lights I pass through seem to take no input from the sensors on the road and just change on a time basis, so at 3am and no other traffic,sitting at lights waiting for them to change when they are setup for rush hour traffic.

            Also see some traffic lights that go through a pedestrian green man cycle even when no pedestrian has pressed the button.

            As for Dublin congestion, I have been saying it for years about planning more small towns on the outskirts and encouraging business into them to save all this commuting. But no, they continue to pack them into a small city. Bus Connects project might help but only for a few years, CPO gardens and cut down trees will be for nothing, and God knows we need the trees.

            The place is bonkers.

        2. ZeligIsJaded

          Traffic Lights do not cause pollution.

          I’ve never worked with traffic management people or anything like that.

          But Traffic Lights do not cause pollution.

          1. postmanpat

            Traffic Lights do cause pollution where they are not needed. Cars have slow down pointlessly at timed lights when there’s no traffic coming from any other direction, idle waiting for the green light wait then take off which causes more emissions than if you were able to just drive straight through. All that stopping and starting that doesn’t need to happen in the first place all adds up.

    1. LeopoldGloom

      Is it the case that the Samuel Beckett bridge has restrictions on the amount of traffic that can pass over it?

      I would imagine so yes, as it has to manage traffic coming from the Port, North Quays (from Heuston), North Side of City/North Circular, South Side from Macken Street. And perhaps most importantly, the LUAS line runs just up from Beckett Bridge, so the lights have to take the LUAS into account too.

      Pedestrians have to wait an absolute age to cross, it’s criminal.

      Problem is, too many vehicles. Specifcally, too many single occupant vehicle. Dublin is a small city. It’s easily navigable by foot within the city centre, from roughly Santry to around Dundrum (7.5 km from city centre either side), cars should be entirely discouraged as much as possible.

      Drivers should probably wear masks too, as they are sitting in the polution longer than someone cycling who is often at least offsetting anything bad.

      1. SOQ

        What I meant was- given that it is a mobile bridge and therefore a lot lighter structure, is there restrictions on the amount of traffic that can pass over it?

    2. Cian

      I don’t know those lights in particular. But there are lights whose role it to slow traffic down, act as a bottleneck, specifically to reduce the throughput of traffic. This is done to prevent gridlock further down. It could be slow for a good reason….or it could be a cockup.

      1. SOQ

        Well this particular set of lights, is on the only route from Pearse Street to the port tunnel- the same tunnel which was designed to move traffic quickly out of the city centre.

        What earthly reason would there be for near grinding the traffic to a halt like that? As i said, the only thing I can think of is that the Beckett bridge is not designed to carry such volume, in which case it may look nice- but it is not fit for purpose.

        1. Cian

          The port tunnel has a specific capacity too – and it can’t be exceeded for safety reasons. It also empties out into the M50/M1 mess before the airport. Another hotspot for traffic buildups.

          Or a cockup. :-)

      1. Roger Opinions

        They pop up on the iPhone app for me. And I don’t click the ads at the top. Has a 5 second tick down until I can close it.

        I’m sure I’m not alone

  4. Iwerzon

    Since moving to Dublin from the country 10yrs ago I have had constant respiratory problems – I’ve lived along the Quay’s and D7 since I moved. My young daughter also has developed asthma like symptoms which improve significantly when we are out of town for any time. It’s the buses!!!

    1. SOQ

      Totally, you don’t need expensive measuring equipment to see, taste and smell the fumes pumped out of those busses. They’ll even stain a white shirt or blouse if you are unfortunate enough to get the full blast from close behind one of them.

      Has your daughter tried sinus washes? Morning and night- not pleasant but they do help some people.

      1. LeopoldGloom

        Yes but the average emissions per passenger on a bus are much lower than those of a car. Take 60 cars off the road and put the drivers onto a bus and you’d have clearer air. Do this 1000 times and imagine how much nicer the city would be

          1. LeopoldGloom

            I agree, but someone who is driving around in the city centre complaining about another emission creating vehicle doesn’t have much right to do so.

          2. SOQ

            One does not cancel the other out and for the record I do not drive around the city unless absolutely necessary- mainly because its such a pain in the.

            As stated by another commentator, most of the pollution along the quays is from busses and as someone who lived on the quays for over 5 years, I can testify that this is absolutely true.

  5. Liam Deliverance

    Good to see the EPA being put under pressure here, for many years their website gave a blanket “good” or “fair” air quality rating across Ireland when the man or woman on the street could tell you that was not the case.

  6. Mezcal

    Implement a school bus system, get all of the traffic off the roads, improve the air quality immeasurably, create employment, reduce traffuc stress, reduce accidents, etc, etc, etc. It’s a no-brainer, as anyone whop drives through the city when schools are in, or out, will tell you. The main problem is parents doing school runs in cars.

  7. Papi

    So to sum up, the main problem is parents not wearing enough masks at traffic lights in diesel cars that are being paid off by the corrupt government.


    1. Mezcal

      It’s the amount of cars on the roads, diesel fuelled cars in particular. Is it really that hard for you to discern that?

  8. Cian

    Adding real-time monitoring stations is a great idea. We can get data on where the problems are and can fix the actual measurable problems first.

    But it needs to be followed up by action.

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